Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spawn of the Slithis (1978)

People often complain about how the horror genre lacks creativity these days, and that it tries too hard to emulate the movies of the past. While that much may be true, most movies in general-even those praised by critics-aren't 100% original. Most director's past and present pay homage to the films they loved, and will probably rip off better films, but that doesn't exactly mean those movies are bad. Hell, director's were doing throwback's to genre's past even in the 70's. Case in point: Stephen Traxler's 1978 50's monster movie homage "Spawn of the Slithis."

The plot itself is nothing the 50's hadn't already done. In Venice, California, the population of hippies, winos and more are all becoming the victims to a bipedal aquatic mutant, which was created by a nuclear leak. While the creature terrorizes and mutilates these folks, it's up to High School Journalism teacher named Wayne Connors (Alan Blanchard) to find out what's going on.

In short, "Slithis" is pretty much an updated version of 50's B-Movies like "The Monster of Piedras Blancas." The whole thing lacks much of the charm of these movies. While past movies dedicated more time to human character's than to the creature, the character of Wayne Conner's is incredibly boring and uninteresting. In fact, just about everyone in this movie is boring and can't act worth a damn. It's also really dull at times, with a moment involving getting a soil sample that takes way too long, and cringe worthy humor courtesy of the hobo characters.

That out of the way, the film does have some charms. The biggest one is the monster itself, which is a man in a rubber monster suit. Maybe it's just me, but seeing such a thing is actually pretty fun, and it brings me back to my childhood days of watching low-rent B-Movies fromt he 50's. The design for the thing is pretty cool too, and is one of the better creature designs of 70's era low budget horror. Plus, it's method of dispatching victims isn't too graphic, but there's something of a cheap thrill in watching a rubbery monster do it's thing.

Still, the bad outweighs the good, meaning that "Spawn of the Slithis" doesn't come with a recommendation. Kind of a shame really, because a part of me wanted to like this movie, but unless you are a hardcore 70's creature flick devotee, then there isn't a whole lot to love.

Rating: 4/10

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Crazies (2010)

The remake is one of the most dreaded things in horror today. With a few exceptions (like the "Dawn of the Dead" remake), most remakes tend to either a.) Add nothing new or exciting to the equation, or b.) Going the safe, PG-13 route. So when it was announced that Michael Eisner's son Breck was directing a remake of George A. Romero's 1973 film "The Crazies", I was more than a little skeptical. I mean, the original, while a good movie, isn't exactly one of Romero's best works, so the idea of remaking it was no skin off of my back. It was just the choice of director that irked me. Thankfully, Eisner got it right, not only doing a remake that improves upon the original, but also manages to be one of the much better horror remakes.

In the town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, a plane crash has caused a bio-weapon known as "Trixie" to leak into the water supply. Said chemical has a noticeable side effect-it causes people to turn insane and commit acts of violence and murder. So what does the government do? The send in the military to control the situation. This isn't exactly an easy epidemic to contain however, and sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), his pregnant wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) and two others (Joe Anderson and Danielle Panabaker) soon realize that the so called "Crazies" might not be the biggest threat.

Eisner's version of "The Crazies" has two things going for it that even Romero's original didn't-good performances and actual scares. Everyone involved-particularly Olyphant and Mitchell-does a fine job with the material, never going over the top or overacting, and helping add some weight and reality to the situation at hand. At the same time, this is a tense little movie, as Eisner pulls off several suspenseful set pieces that constantly get the job done effectively, the highlight being a scene in a car wash. Oh, and there's a really fun cameo appearance from the originals own Lynn Lowery, herself something of a cult icon.

One thing this movie and the original get right is an intelligent social commentary on government incompetence. Government's all over the world have tried to deal with serious situations in unnecessarily violent manners, so the idea of the government violently mishandling a situation isn't the least bit shocking-look at things such as the Iraq War and especially Guantanamo Bay for example.

In the end, "The Crazies" is the rare remake that get's the job done, and manages to actually improve on the original. It's surprising to see Hollywood of all things be the ones who got it right, but at least someone did.

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Night Of The Demons (1988)

The 80's is largely considered the decade in which horror decided to have fun. Sometimes, there were some definite brains behind it all ("Evil Dead II", "Night of the Creeps" and "Return of the Living Dead" for example) and then there were those movies that were mindless but had a definite low rent charm and were perfect for a night with beer and friends. Movies like "Pieces" and "Blood Diner" stacked rental shelves in the 80's and 90's, offering little in intelligence or craftsmanship but plenty in dumb entertainment. Kevin Tenney's 1988 movie "Night of the Demons" is a part of this tradition-stupid, poorly acted and not an original bone in it's body, but dammit if you don't have a good time.

The plot is so simplistic it just had to come from the 80's: a group of dumb teens played by a bunch of actors in their mid to late 20's decide to go to a party at Hull House thrown by Angela (Mimi Kinkade) and Suzanne (Scream Queen legend Linnea Quigley.) Well, Angela and co. decide to throw a séance. This turns out to be as Will Arnett's "Arrested Development" character Gob would call it, a "Huge Mistake," because a demonic force soon possesses Angela, and starts to get to the others as well.

Take "The Evil Dead", "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and your average dumb dead teen flick, throw them in a blender, and "Night of the Demons" is what you get. The movie is anything but original, and really, it's not a good movie. The whole thing is insanely derivative, the acting is terrible, the jokes often fall flat, the characters are annoying (especially the character of Stooge) and the plot holes are numerous. That out of the way, it's still a lot of fun. So why?

Well for one thing, the make up and gore effects are top notch, with some really memorable moments (especially a nasty and just plane odd bit with a tube of lipstick) that really stick out. It also rarely if ever takes itself too seriously, yet with the exception of some terrible puns, plays it straight and never wastes the audiences time with winking self awareness. Plus, there's a definite energy and enthusiasm to the whole enterprise that's almost impossible to resist. Yeah, it's nothing special, but it knows that, and it couldn't be more proud of that fact. It's a goofy party horror movie, and it never pretends to be anything more.

It might not be a classic, but "Night of the Demons" is a good example of horror junk food done right. It might not be too memorable or original, but sometimes you don't want a fancy beer. Sometimes you want a Budweiser.

Rating: 7/10

See No Evil (2006)

I have a name for movies that feature Professional Wrestlers-that term is "Wrestlesploitation." I don't mean things like "The Wrestler." No, I mean the cheesy R-rated horror and action movies that feature wrestlers. The king of this particular sub genre is John Carpenter's essential 1988 classic "They Live." Other entries though, fail to live up to that, and are usually quite bad. Case in point, Gregory Dark's 2006 slasher "See No Evil."

The plot is nothing new, which is what you expect from slasher movies: A group of juvenile delinquents who you really don't care about have to do community service work in what's supposed to be an abandoned hotel. Of course, it's not exactly abandoned. Yep in this here hotel is a psychopath with mother issues named Jacob Goodnight (Glen "Kane" Jacobs), who has a thing for gouging people's eyes out (hence the punning title) and killing them.

If there is anything "See No Evil" get's right, it's the sleaze factor. This is an unapologetically mean spirited and dirty little slasher flick that tries to get the job done. Hell, it's director is a former porn director, whose credits include "New Wave Hookers" and "White Bun Busters" (the latter has one of the best/worst songs ever.) It also has a really nifty kill with a cell phone, in a scene that should be used in theaters as a "turn your cell phones off" message.

That's about all it does get right though. Sure, it's got the sleaze, but it's also directed in a really hyper-edited style you'd see in music videos (though Dark also directed music videos) that makes it all feel like a sub-par "Saw" imitation. Also, there's only one decent kill in the movie-the rest are uninspired and imminently forgettable. It also doesn't help that Jacob just isn't a very interesting slasher villain, as he's yet another guy with mother issues. Oh, and we also see him check the oil (it took me forever to come up with a good enough masturbation euphemism) in a moment that proves that Vince McMahon produced this.

While it has all the sleaze, "See No Evil" is a mostly forgettable slasher movie that fails to capture the fun of old school slasher movies or the right balance of seediness and low-rent thrills of the likes of "Maniac" and "The Toolbox Murders." It just goes to show that maybe Vince McMahon and his WWE films banner should stay away from the slasher genre.

Oh and Vince, nobody wants to see Kane spank it.

Rating: 3/10

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)

Doing a sequel to a movie can be hard-especially if it's a sequel to a largely divisive movie. The original "Cabin Fever" fits roughly in two camps: Those who love it (like me) and those who think it's one of the worst horror movies of all time. So when it was announced that Ti West was directing the sequel, I was interested. I had seen his debut movie "The Roost" and was impressed with what I saw-a tribute to the 70's and 80's era of horror that mostly got it right. He seemed like the perfect choice.

Then the news broke. Basically, Lionsgate was unsure of what to do with the movie, and West abandoned it to work on an excellent little movie called "The House of the Devil." Then the producers shot new material and edited the film without West's permission. West was unhappy with this, and went on to disown the movie (even trying to give it the "Alan Smithee" credit.) Now, here we are, and the movie is finally on DVD. Is it the disaster West made it out to be?

For the most part, it's not.

The movie opens where the original ended-Paul (Rider Strong) wakes up in the creek he was dumped in, now barely recognizable due to the disease disfiguring him. After stumbling though the woods and into the road, he's hit by a school bus, splattering him everywhere. Way to make an exit.

Cut to High school, and the upcoming prom. Poor John (Noah Segan) is hopelessly in love with Liz (Regan Deal), who just happens to be dating a total asshole in Marc (Marc Senter, here slightly influenced by the villain from "The Karate Kid.") When his best pal Alex (Rusty Kelley) decides to go to the prom (after a girl with a suspicious bump on her lip and braces gives him a blow job-why anyone would let a girl like that give them a blow job is beyond me), John decides to go-as does Liz. Unfortunately for them (and the rest of those attending) the flesh eating bacteria from the original has made it's way into the drinking water.

Oh, and let's not forget Deputy Winston (Giuseppe Andrews), who puts two and two together and realizes that if he doesn't find a way out fast, he's going to be in some deep shit.

First thing's first: "Cabin Fever 2" is not a better movie than the original. In fact, it's a largely different beast. Where as Eli Roth made his movie about what would happen if five dumb College kids found themselves in an awful situation, West is more interested in paying homage to the likes of early John Waters movies, as well as several 80's teen flicks. In a lot of ways, this movie eschews much of the horror (well, save for a few scenes), instead opting for something that feels like a gory, darkly comic version of a teen comedy. And for the large part, that works, as he let's the audience get to know these characters, and whattya know, some of them are kind of likable. It also helps that the cameo appearences (from Strong, "30 Rock's" Judah Friedlander, indie horror darling Larry Fessenden, and "American Movie's" Mark Borchardt as Winston's cousin) are fun and at times really funny.

Oh, and speaking of the gore, this sucker out does the original in this department. Among the grotesqueness on display, we get: a gnarly bit with an infected penis, bloody piss in the punch bowl, a head bashed in with a fire extinguisher, loads of blood spewing forth, a hand lopped off at the wrist, a really bad miscarriage, and more. You can tell that they went all out in this department.

So far, it's been a really fun time...and then the final 10 minutes takes place. This is the part of the movie in which the producers and the studios interference can be seen, and it really shows. It all takes place in a Strip Club, and it clashes with the tone of the rest of the movie, feeling incredibly out of place-and not to mention nowhere near as funny as the producers thing it is. In short, that part of the movie is a disaster.

Other than that, "Cabin Fever 2" is a really fun (but flawed) gorefest that should entertain some and divide others. I myself really enjoyed it-except for the lame conclusion.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Roost (2005)

It's a cliche to say so, but what the hell-everyone remembers spending their weekend nights renting movies on VHS to kill some time, especially horror movies. I would know-I used to work at a video rental back in the day, and one of the perks of that job was getting to rent old horror titles. Sometimes they'd be great ("The Evil Dead", "Night of the Creeps", etc.) other times they'd be awful ("Splatter Farm", "Curse of the Screaming Dead") but either way, it was a fun way to spend a Friday night. These days, a lot of movies try to capture the feeling of those days of rentals past, but few director's know how to do it. Ti West is an exception to the rule though-he understands what makes horror movies work, especially the ones of old. He proved it with the excellent "The House of the Devil", and he proved it earlier with his directorial debut "The Roost."

The plot is essentially a movie within a movie-a horror show host (The ever reliable Tom Noonan) is here to present a little horror movie called "The Roost." That movie deals with four friends who find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, and end up at an old barn. Thing is, said barn has itself some vampire bats-bats that turn anyone they bite into ravenous, almost zombie like killers.

The plot itself is nothing new to say the least, but that's part of what makes it so fun. You've seen a movie like "The Roost" before, and it knows that. This is exactly the kind of movie I used to rent back in the day, and the whole thing just fills me with fond memories and nostalgia. Fortunately, the movie has more than nostalgia going for it. Like "The House of the Devil", West understands the importance of suspense, and he milks every moment for what it's worth with bouts of violence (both seen and implied-this isn't the goriest movie) and an excellent score by Jeff Grace, which helps to amplify the tension.

If it does have any flaws, it would be one moment in which West for some reason or another feels the need to stop the action for the host to interrupt, letting the audience know he finds the affection on display noxious. While I get the joke, it still feels a bit too smart alecey for it's own good. Also, the Horrorcore Rap song at the end credits is utterly appalling.

That out of the way, "The Roost" is a fun debut that hints at things to come, and should be right at home for guys like me who rented movies like "Scarecrows" and "The House on Sorority Row" on VHS back in the day. Check it out.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Funny Games U.S. (2007)

Movies that make statements about violence are nothing new. Movies such as "Last House on the Left", " "Menace 2 Society" and others have taken the subject and explored it in discomforting but provocative ways. Why do audiences get enjoyment out of violent films and entertainment so much, especially when one considers the fact that violence is anything but fun? While some movies are able to engage in such topics in an intelligent manner, others take the preachy, obnoxious route that thinks hammering it's audience over the head is the best way to get it's message across. That's exactlly what Michael Haneke's shot for shot English Language remake of his 1997 film "Funny Games" is.

The plot deals with a middle class family named the Farbers (with mom and dad played by Naomi Watts and Tim Roth), who are on a vacation. Things are great-until two men named Peter (Brady Corbet) and Paul (Michael Pitt) come along, with one thing in mind-torture and murder, and they see the Farber family as a prime target.

The plot is nothing that hasn't been done a thousand times, but where it deviates is what Haneke does with it. What we get is a study of violence in the media, and how the depictions of violence shape our culture. While it's a noble move, Haneke isn't interested in subtlety-he'd rather lecture the audience with a sledgehammer approach, having characters constantly break the fourth wall and essentially ask you "are you entertained?" And that's the whole message of the movie-how DARE you be entertained by violent movies! It beats the audience with the message, and essentially chastises his audience for wanting to watch the movie in the first place. Here's the thing though-it's possible to make a movie that studies our relationship with violence without being smug and condescending-look at movies like "A History of Violence", which question America's relationship with violence in a complex, intelligent manner without scolding it's audience.

And it's a shame too, since Haneke is obviously a talented filmmaker, and he get's great performances from his cast. Watts in particular shines, and Roth does the best job he's done in years, while Pitt and Corbet make menacing turns as the psychopaths-notice I didn't say antagonists though, since Haneke is the real antagonist.

It's obvious that "Funny Games" has some things to say-it just says them all wrong. While trying to make a commentary on violence in the media, it spends so much time sneering at it's audience and preaching to it's choir that it forgets to be a good movie. This is the kind of movie that some will chastise other for "not getting it." I totally "got it" though-and that's why I didn't like it.

Rating: 3/10

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Raw Meat (1972)

Th 70's were the best and worst of times for British Horror. On one hand, the newer wave of horror-films like "Night of the Living Dead", "Rosemary's Baby", "The Last House on the Left" and even more low rent, trashy fair had unfortunately made the likes of Frankenstein and Dracula seem like old news. Hammer tried to make them fit in with the times, but for the most part, they couldn't do it. On the other hand, films like "The Wicker Man" (arguably the best British Horror flick of all time), the Amicus anthology films, and even sleaze merchant Norman J. Warren helped change the way people looked at British Horror (whether or not that's a good thing in Warren's case is entirely up to you.) Another British Horror movie that somewhat broke from the mold was Gary Sherman's 1972 cannibal flick "Raw Meat" aka "Death Line."

There's something going on in London's Tube Tunnels-and I'm not talking about drugs either. When a top civil servant goes missing, it turns out that the culprit is one of the last people (or in this case, inbred mutants) in the line of a group of construction workers who were thought to have disappeared in the 19th century. To make things worse, he's got a thing for eating human flesh. Can Inspector Calhoun (a charming Donald Pleasence) and Detective Rogers (Norman Rossington of "A Hard Day's Night" fame) stop this before it's too late.

The debut feature of Gary Sherman, "Raw Meat" may have a premise that sound partially lifted from an American Exploitation movie, but the movie itself couldn't be more British. It has a distinctly British sense of humor-Pleasence offers a fun performance, and is clearly having a good time with the material, and Christopher Lee offers an amusing cameo. It also has the political underpinnings of some of the best British Horror, as the cannibal himself (played effectively by Hugh Armstrong) and his bloodline could be seen as a thinly veiled metaphor for class struggle. The movie itself does offer some gore (including a nifty bit with a shovel), but it relies more on using the underground taverns and the string of mauled corpses in the cannibal's lair to create an atmosphere of unease and tension, as well as death and decay. Everywhere you step in his lair, there are rats and dead bodies littering the ground and walls.

If the movie does suffer in any way, it's in the score by Wil Malone and Jeremy Rose is a bit annoying. How many more times can we hear the same 70's porno synthesizer sounds? It doesn't help that David Ladd is particularly bad as the token American Alex. His performance is quite bad, especially in the the presence of greats like Pleasence, and the fact that he is in the movie simply to attract American audiences is a bit perturbing.

Still, while not exactly a classic, "Raw Meat" is a good slice of British Horror that offers enough humor and horror to please fans of such movies. Now if only the character of Alex was played by a better actor...

Director Sherman went on to direct the classic American zombie movie "Dead & Buried", as well as the police flick "Vice Squad" and the Rutger Hauer vehicle "Wanted: Dead or Alive." Then came "Poltergeist III", and the less said about that, the better, which then was followed by the psycho chick flick "Lisa." It wouldn't be until 2006 when he'd return to directing non TV fair with the movie "39: A Film by Carroll McKane."

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The House of the Devil (2009)

One of the biggest loads of crap the media tried to pull in the 1980's was the stories of ritualistic abuse and sacrifice committed by satanic cults. It seemed like every week that pretentious dorks in black robes were sacrificing people in the name of Diablo. Well, that whole thing turned out to be what it sounds like today-a bunch of crap. I know, the media making a mountain out of a molehill is nothing new, but this was the 80's, and people do tend to believe stupid things. Nonetheless, the idea of satanic sacrifice is one that is certainly creepy, and a staple in the horror genre. One of the most recent example of this is Ti West's tribute to all things creepy about old school horror called "The House of the Devil."

"House" deals with a girl named Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), who really needs some money. Fortunately for her, the Ulman's (Mary Warnov and Tom Noonan) need somebody for a babysitting job, and they are willing to pay plenty. That's all great, but her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) is not so sure about this, and for good reason. Why would they have stood her up earlier, and lied to her about who she has to look after? Why would they want her for this job on the night of a full lunar eclipse? What's with the weird scratching noise coming from downstairs? What's with the weird pizza guy (AJ Bowen.) Long story short, it all turns out that there is more to this than Samantha thinks there is, and she's going to find out soon enough.

One thing that can be said about "The House of the Devil" is that it serves as more proof that Ti West is one of the best director's working in the horror genre today. While most feel the need to pilfer scenes from classic horror movies to get the feeling of 70's and particularly 80's horror, West knows better. He understands the value of dread and suspense. He understands how to work with a slow crawling atmosphere. He knows how to throw in gore without shoving it in your face. In short, he just gets it. "House" is a slow moving movie that takes it's time-there are a few moments where some audiences may feel bored. However, West knows how to make that wait work to the film's advantage. The more it goes on, the more you get the feeling that not only is something bad about to happen, but also that it will not end well. By making you wait, West builds a sense of almost unbearable tension (especially within the final 30 minutes), as if you are watching someone you've gotten to know for a short time end up in a dreadful situation. By making the audience get to know Samantha a little, the movie makes her eventual fate all the more unnerving.

If there is any problem with the movie, it's the conclusion. It just doesn't completely feel right, as if the director had forgotten to add a proper wrap up to the events beforehand. It's not a cheap happy ending-it's anything but that in fact. But it just feels too sudden and half thought out.

Still, "The House of the Devil" is one of last years best horror movies for a very good reason. It fully understands the necessity of anticipation and restraint, all without catering to anybody or holding back in the blood department. If you haven't seen it yet, give it a chance-it just might get to you even more so than "Paranormal Activity."

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dead Clowns (2003)

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Good night!"

So said John Lydon in what was supposed to be the final Sex Pistols show. I never was a fan of the Pistols, but I feel that said quote is appropriate here. The band performed a cover of The Stooges classic "No Fun", then called it a night. That was the whole show. If they had gone off like that and remained split up, I would probably have more respect for them. The audience wasn't the least bit happy, which is how most should feel after seeing Steve Sessions' 2003 movie "Dead Clowns"-especially when you first read it's synopsis. What could have been a decent low budget gem is instead a dull, incompetent mess.

The plot at first reads almost like a Troma movie-fifty years ago,a hurricane caused a circus train accident, which killed off several clowns. The town has mostly forgotten about this incident. That is, until another Hurricane is coming, and before you can say "Send in the clowns", here they come-undead, angry, and without flowers that squirt water.

Amazingly, the movie decides to play itself straight for the large part, avoiding what could have been a sub Troma level Horror Comedy. It's also obvious what Sessions influences are here-John Carpenter's "The Fog", the zombie films of Lucio Fulci, and Amando de Ossorio's "Blind Dead" series. It obviously means well-it's atmospheric and gory enough-but the whole thing is a chore to watch. Why's that?

Well for one thing, for all it's atmosphere, it doesn't know what to do with it. The movie just plods along, with events and kills occurring without any real interest or energy. There's no real story arc to it either. Sure, it has a plot, but the whole thing feels like it has no interest in doing anything as far as characters and story goes. And the characters are dumb too, and not amusingly dumb. They behave stupidly and barely even try to escape the zombie menace before them-as if they are practically begging to be killed. Let's also not forget the solution to stopping these Undead Bozos, which sets new standards for terrible plot devices in zombie movies.

It particularly sucks because the idea of Zombie Clowns is a novel one, and it's obvious that Sessions' heart is in the right place. The problem is that the whole thing-from the script to the direction and so on-is so poorly put together that it fails in nearly all accounts. It's best that you skip this one. I wish I had another clown joke to make, but alas.


Rating: 1/10

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Rage (2007)

If anything, one of the main things 80's horror will be known for is being the decade in which the splatter comedy came to be. Granted, the 60's and 70's gave us movies that mixed gore with macabre humor, with fair like "The Undertaker and His Pals" and Herschel Gordon Lewis' "The Gore Gore Girls" playing in Drive-In and Grindhouse theaters (especially in the South), but it was the 80's in which the dial was turned up. Movies like "The Evil Dead" and it's sequel, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" and lesser known fair like "Blood Diner" and the films of Troma Studios mixed geysers of viscera with baroque laughs in ways previously unseen, creating a generation of kids and fans who ate it up. This kind of horror movie has lived on to this day for better and for worst, with several films paying tribute to those films of Splatter Day's past. One of the more recent examples is Robert ("Wishamaster") Kurtzman's 2007 gore flick "The Rage."

The plot is nothing spectacular-essentially a pastiche of films like "Re-Animator" and the aforementioned TCM 2. Dr.Viktor Vasilienko (Andrew Divoff) has created a deadly Rage Virus that turns people into bloodthirsty mutants. Well, one of these said mutants gets loose, causes a little havoc, and dies. End of problem, right? Well, some vultures pick at the corpse, and soon they become infected. Oh, and let's not forget those partying kids (including scream queen Erin ("Shadow: Dead Riot", "The Lost") Brown, better known to guys who watch Cinemax at 12:30 A.M. as Misty Mundae.)

From the get go, you can tell "The Rage" isn't really anything special. The acting is largely uneven (Brown in particular is bad-shocking considering that she gave good performances in "The Lost", "Shadow" and the "Masters of Horror" episode "Sick Girl") and at times annoying. It also doesn't help that it feels the need to reference other, better Horror movies. Come on guys, do we really need another Horror Comedy that references the likes of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Phantasm"? The humor is also hit and miss, as the film at times seems to be unsure of it's tone (though Brown calling an infected dwarf an "Evil Oompa Loompa" is pretty hilarious.)

That out of the way, there is still plenty to enjoy about the movie. While it's not the least bit original, it at least knows it and has fun with that fact. The plot (and a sub plot involving Viktor) is so 80's that one can't help but smirk and join the ride. Speaking of Divoff, he's a blast as the villainous doctor, giving a delightfully over the top performance that is a ton of fun, and makes up for the other mediocre performances. Oh, and the gore? It's fantastic and plentiful. Eyes are torn out, heads role, blood sprays in literal fountains-it all looks great. Well, the rage infected vultures that spit acid are pretty cheap, but they have their own little charm.

In the end, "The Rage" is far from a classic-it's a bit too slight and at times uneven to warrant such a status. For a Straight to DVD Splatter movie though, it's largely fun but flawed, and would make a great rental with friends and some beer.

Rating: 6.5/10